The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Five Finds on Friday: Sidney Hall

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Sidney Hall, who this week opened Moon Maiden’s Delights, a sprouted grain, gluten-free and vegan bakery in York Place on the downtown mall. Hall has baked professionally for nine years, and says she “loves to surprise people with how delicious and nourishing a food category can be that is often compared to cardboard and gets many an eye roll.” Open today 8-3. Hall’s picks:

1) Colima Volcan De Fuego Coffee from Shark Mountain Coffee. “I don’t wake up for anything except this glorious sweet coffee nectar that brings me to life.”

2) Sous Poulet from Pearl Island. “The farmer’s market is a super fun place to work. Especially fun when I get a free moment and can mow down some delicious and aromatic, tomato-y stewed chicken with a heaping side of vinegared kale and watermelon turnips…or is it radishes? Anyways, I know what you’re thinking.”

3) La Cura Loca from The Bebedero. “Scorpion infused mezcal, limoncello, and brown ale. Being a server at The Bebedero granted me a lot of amazing opportunities to taste interesting cocktails. This one was so damn good.”

4) Late Night Pork Tacos from C&O. “These seem like a long lost distant memory to me, as I keep baking hours now, so no more staying out past 11. But, I might do it just one more time for these juicy beauties topped with vinegar dredged slaw.”

5) Quail Stuffed with Mushrooms and Pistachios, Sauteed Endive, Quail Jus from Fleurie. “This is definitely the way to start off a meal. Such rich flavors and enjoyable textures. Pistachios plus mushrooms plus quail is a heavenly bite each time.”

 

Five Finds on Friday: Wilson Richey (2)

Richey2No good idea goes unpunished – as when the person who suggests a good plan is required to execute it. “Great idea! Now, do it.” A while back, Wilson Richey proposed that prior participants of Five Finds on Friday be permitted to do it again. The six year span of Five Finds on Friday has included hundreds of picks from area chefs and personalities, but never a repeat appearance. With such a long history, Richey contended, some picks may now be stale, while early participants have likely made new discoveries worth celebrating.

And so, today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Wilson Richey, the serial restaurateur who launched Ten Course Hospitality, founded The Alley Light, and currently owns or co-owns Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar, The Bebedero, The Pie Chest, and Brasserie Saison. Five years and several restaurants after his first picks, Richey’s second round of picks:

1) Meatloaf and Good Beaujolais at Bizou (b. 1996). “I wanted to say ‘Tim and Vincent at Bizou’ but I’m not sure everybody gets to see them when they go. I often do, and a friendly smile from Tim or a story from Vincent will make me feel better about my life and my day. There is perfection in simplicity and that perfection is delivered every service at Bizou. I could eat at Bizou every day. The dishes are balanced, never too heavy, always flavorful and with apparent attention to detail. Every time I eat there I remark at how crisp and well dressed every leaf of lettuce is. A quick conversation with Vincent will yield a tremendous wine selection and, more often than not, some really good advice about managing your restaurant. Like John and Lynelle from Mudhouse, Vincent has helped me grow and think about my business far more then I will ever be able to thank him for. There is always a great Bistro wine selection at Bizou that you will not find anywhere else in town. Often these are from my favorite fringe wine regions in France like Jura, Savoie or the often overlooked but not fringe region of Beaujolais. A good Cru Beaujolais and the classic Bizou Meatloaf is just good, unpretentious enjoyment, a perfect lunch for this time of year in the Fall when the patios on the mall are the best place to be in town.”

2) An Elegant Glass of Wine and Some Perspective at Tastings (b. 1990). “When I moved to town in 1997, I tried to get a job at Tastings because for me it was obviously the best business idea in town. I did not get the job but I bought a case of wine hand selected by Bill Curtis every other week for the next year to learn about wine. At the time I thought Bill was a grumpy, contrary, rough old dude. Twenty years later I still think that and I love it. Bill Curtis is one of the straightest shooters in the business. He and his business are among the most authentically Charlottesville things about Charlottesville. I always go to Tastings, and I send everyone I know to Tastings, to find a good bottle of wine with a little age or character to it. I try to stop and have a great glass of wine when I can (he is one of the few people to open exceptional bottles to pour by the glass), and listen to Bill’s perspective which can be more refreshing than the wine itself. I don’t get to do this often, but it is a personal goal for me to get over there more.”

3) Lobster Bisque and The Full Experience at Fleurie (b. 2001). “Back in those days, around the time when I was buying a case of wine at Tastings from Bill up the street, I would also take myself to dinner alone at the newly opened Fleurie, every other week or so, to learn something about food. I was waiting tables at the time and was single and in my early 20’s. I had money to burn and I burnt it on learning from the right places. I have always loved Fleurie for its classic French cuisine, but ever since Erin Scala took over the dining room and wine program she has added another layer of appreciation for this always excellent experience. And now, with Jose De Brito’s return, and an already complete experience is heightened, though seemingly impossible, to a level beyond. Think about it: Brian Helleberg’s Fleurie is a tremendous classic French restaurant, Erin Scala has brought the hospitality and wine program to an unprecedented level in this town and possibly in the state of Virginia, and now Jose de Brito is back in the kitchen . . . I mean Good Lord in Heaven . . . I really can’t put into words how good this is. Anyway, if I had to pick one dish from Fleurie it would still be the lobster bisque because it is exceptional and complex and excellent with a good White Burgundy. But really Fleurie is about the total experience and everything they do is of note.”

4) A Light Dinner Alone at TEN Sushi (b. 2007). “Going to Ten makes me feel calm and collected. I often go when I am trying to collect my thoughts or I want to feel particularly together as a person. This is also my favorite restaurant in town to go to alone. The cocktails are elegant and well made, there is always a good and reasonably priced Champagne on the wine list, and the fish is always of the finest quality. One bite of the rice and you know someone took the time to make sure it was excellent. I have many favorites here but I most often will order the Wasabi Roll and the Wasabi Wagyu Skewer together with a house recommendation of Sake. People think of Ten as expensive but it does not have to be. Like any great restaurant, you can make it a pricey splurge or you can order a few items that still fill your hunger (like the amazing tempuras). Even when you order light, like I usually do, you still feel uplifted and refined by the experience.”

5) Coupe Maison late night at C&O (b. 1976). “I used to go to C&O’s basement bar late night all the time. It is classy, warm, and comfortable. C&O for late night is another standard bearer for living in Charlottesville. This is where my wife and I would go when we were dating, for late night ice cream and champagne. Often I would order some sort of Campari based drink and sit long into the evening. This is where I first heard The Olivarez Trio and was blown away by Rick, Dave and Jeff’s rendition of some of my favorite music. I love the C&O for many reasons. The sweetbreads with greens peppercorns is another favorite dish, but the Coupe Maison, late night, at the bar, with Champagne, with a beautiful woman (like my wife) and a few late night Campari based cocktails hopefully with the Olivarez Trio playing in the back ground, is a perfect Charlottesville moment to be enjoyed. We still get out for this ritual every chance we get.”

Prime 109 Dinner Yields 40K Meals for the Hungry

Prime109_event013The best part of Sunday’s charity dinner from Lampo and Blanc Creatives is that it raised enough money for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to provide more than 40,000 meals to the area’s hungry. This is thanks not just to Lampo and guests who paid $100 per ticket, but also to event donors like The Local Food Hub, Standard ProduceBlenheim Vineyards, Hardywood, Three Notch’d Brewing Company, Splendora’s, MarieBette, La Vache Microcreamery and Traeger Brothers.  Cocktails were prepared by staff from Washington, D.C.’s Fiola.

But, beyond serving a great cause, the dinner also gave guests a first peek at Lampo’s steakhouse, Prime 109, due to open next year in the former Bank of America building on the downtown mall. After Parker House rolls with truffled Maître d’Hôtel tallow butter, guests enjoyed French onion soup with bone broth, tobacco onions, and raclette. Next there was a family style mixed grill of 60-day dry aged meats from Sherwood Farm: slow cooked steamship round, kielbasa, and steak, with scalloped potatoes and braised greens. Finally, there was apple tartin with cardamon gelato and, thankfully, saba.

Photographer Jeff Loope captured images of it all. (More photos here.) Looks promising, no?

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